Men and Childbirth
Having men at the birth is a very new concept and many people don’t think it’s a great idea. As recently as the 1970’s, men were not allowed to come into the birthing environment and it was an ‘all women’ area. Personally, I don’t think that’s a bad thing and I’ll give you a personal example from the birth of my son.
My husband is a medic and has been present at childbirth before and, in fact, operates on people on a daily basis, so it did not even occur to me that being at the birth would be an issue. I’m pretty sure I didn’t ask him.
The first time that I realized that Mike had completely freaked out, was when we were getting into the car to go to the hospital, he said, “It’s all going to be fine, the hospital is only ten minutes away.” I think he said this about twenty times.
During the birth, my poor husband had a look of shock and fear on his face the whole way through. The midwives and I asked him if he’d like a seat or maybe a glass of water. Mike was in shock. This is not to say that he was not amazingly supportive and lovely, as he always is, but the scared expression on his face (on the face of a man who is at all times completely composed and in control of the situation) said to me that there was something wrong that he wasn’t telling me. This caused me worry and created tension in my body and I had to keep asking him, “Is there something I don’t know? Is everything okay?”
I had an amazingly peaceful, euphoric (often very noisy) birth for which I could not have hoped for any better of an experience. When we discussed it later, Mike said that he felt as if he was in a medical situation that he had no control over. My strange mooing noises and writhing, which are completely normal during birth, made him feel that he should be doing something, when really all I was doing was relaxing into birth in my own unique way. Being a medic, my husband viewed the situation as medical and as there were no medical interventions, it all seemed alien to him.
I don’t think I would want to put him through that again, and I don’t think it would be helpful for me to be distracted by worrying about how he felt during the birth again. You may be thinking, I still definitely want my partner to be there and that is absolutely fine, but I do ask that you give it serious thought and have an honest and frank discussion about it beforehand. My husband is the best husband and dad in the world (yes I’m a bit biased) but I think next time, it’s going to be all girls present at the birth. There is something reassuring about an all-woman environment, women helping women.
This blog is adapted from the revised edition of Birth ROCKS by Cheryl MacDonald, available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle.